Joint Bank Account Law – Back to the Future

In our Spring 2010 issue we reviewed two significant Pennsylvania Superior Court decisions about joint ownership of bank accounts.  In that article we described how the Superior Court had decided, in particular instances, that the terms of a will could override the survivorship features that are implicit in joint accounts.  These two decisions were anomalies; historically, titling accounts in joint names overrode the provisions of the will, not vice versa.  Moreover, this was a troubling departure from prior law, because individuals set up estate plans with the settled expectation that a surviving joint owner became the owner of the account upon the death of the other joint owner(s). Happily, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has since reviewed the issue, and the law has been placed back to where it had historically been.  That is to say, in most cases, a joint bank account will go to the survivor of the two joint owners notwithstanding the deceased joint owner’s will.

 – BBC&B


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